No Curt Schilling, so the usual offense was back. This time, Marcus drove in DeRosa (in for Furcal for another back-to-back start) to take the lead in the first and then scored on Fick’s single later in the inning. Fick doubled in two more runs in the third, and it was 4-0 before the DBacks could score. It’s good to see Fick get some hits; he’s been pretty awful lately, coming into the game hitting .147/.189/.239 for August. Sheffield homered in the fifth and Giles in the eighth to complete the scoring. Gary’s streak is now at 22, and Marcus has 40 doubles for the season, just one behind Chipper’s Atlanta record.
And Mike Hampton had another superb outing: 8 innings, 4 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. I’m not sure how he’s doing this, but it’s basically the way he pitched as a big winner in Houston and New York. It seems to work for him. His season ERA is now 4.04 and he’s given up one run in each of his last three outings — a complete game and two eight-inning starts. Ray King continued to fail utterly in his attempt to fill Boom-Boom Hernandez’s shoes, pitching the ninth without allowing a baserunner, striking out two.
Julio Franco was not at the game, having gone to the hospital after somehow injuring the middle finger of his left hand in the batting cage. In Atlanta traffic, that’s not a finger you want to be without. If he did go on the 15-day DL, it would be a good excuse for the Braves to call up an outfielder they could put on the postseason roster. Julio’s last appearance was Saturday, the 16th, meaning he’d be eligible to come off the DL September 1. I’m just saying. (Actually, I hear roster expansion will be Sept. 2 because of Labor Day. You’d think Labor Day would be the last holiday the MLB offices would want to celebrate.)
The Braves’ series opener at San Francisco will be on TBS. In the middle of the night. Fine, fine, they have the network, it’s their business. They have Seinfeld reruns and action movies from the early nineties to show. Three games in San Fran, where the Giants are 41-18, then three in Colorado, where the Rockies are 41-19. Of course, the Braves are even better at home, 45-19. For a variety of reasons, including I suspect just luck, home field advantage seems to be a bigger factor in the NL than the AL this year. Meaning finishing with the best record — the Braves are now 7 1/2 up on the Giants, to the great surprise of the ESPN.com baseball editors no doubt — is fairly important.